Wednesday, March 28, 2012

RIP Adrienne Rich

Tonight No Poetry Will Serve
by Adrienne Rich
Saw you walking barefoot
taking a long look
at the new moon's eyelid

later spread
sleep-fallen, naked in your dark hair
asleep but not oblivious
of the unslept unsleeping

Tonight I think
no poetry
will serve

Syntax of rendition:

verb pilots the plane
adverb modifies action

verb force-feeds noun
submerges the subject
noun is choking
verb    disgraced    goes on doing

now diagram the sentence

Chicken Little

Someone recently called me a Chicken Little. I will accept that label, although the better analogy is Cassandra, my patron saint. I keep telling people not to let that goddammed wooden horse through the gates, but do they listen? 

I try tell someone the sky is falling. How can the sky possibly fall, he asks?  He has never been knocked flat by fate you see, so he has no point of reference. Sadly, time will remedy his lack of experience. The sky falls on all of us sooner or later.

Trust me, I don’t want to be an Eeyore, a wet blanket, the voice of doom. I don't want to be a drag. I've learned to keep my pessimism to myself. I cheerlead for lost causes, nod and agree when I’m in doubt, accentuate the positive.  But, my dark heart always knows when I’m lying.
April is in my mistress’ face
And July in her eyes hath place
Within her bosom is September
But in her heart lies cold December

I tend to believe that I'm not a pessimist but a clear-eyed realist. The reality is, nobody wants to buy what I peddle.  So, what's a little white lie among friends? Whatever gets you through the night, right? Nobody wants to sleep with cold December; bring on April!

And thus we fiddle while Rome burns.

Monday, March 26, 2012

If I Could Tell You

What would I tell you if I could? Late on Friday afternoon, after working all day on mindless tasks, I reached my limit and began reading poetry online. In such a state, listening to music will not soothe my troubled heart. Music catches in my ear and sets my imagination spinning. Poetry slows my mind down, makes me stop and consider each word. Auden's measured tone, his tolerance and compassion, are a balm to my dissatisfaction. He reduces the cacophonous babble in my brain and for that, I am grateful.

Dissatisfaction, the unwelcome companion, the pebble in my shoe. Where does it spring from? What does it serve? Nowhere and nothing; I'm not wise, but I know that much.

You pays yer money and takes yer chances. The odds are always in the house’s favor and you carry your bruises to remind you wherever you go.

If I Could Tell You

Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away;
Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

W.H. Auden

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Grasshoppers and Ants

My trusty Tracker was coated in a layer of feathery, fine snow this morning, so powder dry that I was able to forgo the ice scraper and sweep the windshield with the wipers.  With the first swipe, the snow flew into the air in an explosion of glitter crystals. Breathtaking. It was slow going over the snowy pass, but I took my time and made it in without incident.  Just another hair-raising morning commute to work. Hi ho, hi ho.

Would that my office afforded such random acts of senseless beauty as glitter crystals, but alas, it was never thus. I’m mired in the metaphorical mud at the art factory, engaged in a long slog with no end in sight.  I know, I know, I should be grateful to have a job.  But, I must say, I’m tired of being grateful for a job that I don't love.  Is it evil to admit that I’m deeply jealous of my unemployed brothers and sisters? 
I’m sure the experience of unemployment is much less satisfying in practice than in theory.  It’s interesting to see how different people react. One unemployed person I know treats his job search like a full-time job.  He’s at it every day, making calls, searching sites, networking with others in his field, researching possibilities for advanced training. In the few months he has been unemployed he has already had several interviews.  In the meantime he stretches every dollar until the eagle screams.  His unemployment benefit is a fraction of his former salary, but he manages to live on it gracefully, if carefully. He’s a poster child for why the Democrats extended unemployment benefits.  He is inspiring.
Another person I know has been unemployed for a couple of years now and appears to have done nothing about it. He worked the system for as long as he could while making no attempt to find work or improve his skills.  All the while, he was living way beyond his means. Now his benefits have run out, his savings are gone and he has nothing to show for it.  He received benefits for two years, made no effort to improve his situation, and now he wants to play the victim. He’s the poster child for why the Republicans didn’t want to extend unemployment benefits.  It’s – pick your adjective - depressing? Infuriating? 

If we as a country are going to talk about the unemployed, we have to talk about them accurately and unemotionally. In my experience, most of the unemployed fall into the first camp. They deserve our full-hearted support.  But have to acknowledge the minority personified by bachelor number two.  They are the grasshoppers who sing while we ants toil.  It’s very hard to summon any compassion for them, particularly since they tend to tar all of the unemployed with their slacker brush.

If I had two years of unemployment benefits stretched out before me, I’d like to believe that I’d go back to school and reinvent myself one more time.  I'd like to believe that I'd use it as an opportunity to improve my life.  But, who knows?  Maybe I’d spend my days reading and watching TV.  Maybe I’d drain my bank account and sponge off Sequoia. 
I’ll tell you this: I’d love to have the opportunity to find out.  Unfortunately, I don’t foresee being laid off any time soon. In a company full of net expense-generators, I'm one of the few net income-generators. If only I weren’t so damn valuable J